Today was my first day on my new ‘Surprise Me’ project. I was unsure what to expect from this module because my main factor for choosing it was that the lecturer – Steve Thompson, had delivered some interesting lectures to product design last year.
My uncertainty wasn’t helped when I realised the theme of the project. Essentially, Surprise Me is about beating the paradigms of our subjects to create unusual and abnormal projects as well as thought experiments. This hit me as something I’m not a massive fan of, especially due to the theoretical connotations. I don’t really like designing for design’s sake, I far prefer designing beneficial products that solve real world problems, not one off pieces to make people question theories…
Both Steve Thompson and Theo Humphries talked us through the first lecture, informing us that this module had no learning outcomes and little structure. There were two main points that I grasped from the lecture;
First was Gettier’s paper – ‘Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?’ which I found interesting as a concept, despite the fact that I am unsure if I actually understand the idea, or for that matter, find its relevance in my design work. Essentially however, it was an interesting philosophical point which is to say that is to say that someone can believe something to be true and can have justification for believing such, but it isn’t necessarily knowledge, e.g. if I found that every time I saw a blue car, it rained within the hour, I could justify the belief that seeing blue cars is directly linked to it raining, despite the fact that it is clearly not actual knowledge. The example Theo gave which linked to pigeons getting food when they were doing something out of the ordinary, made them repeat this action in order to try and get food. Again, I find this quite an interesting philosophical idea, however I don’t know if I could ever really link this to design…
Second was what surprise actually is and also what it isn’t. Theo talked us through what he felt surprise was, he claimed that surprise can be achieved by questioning myself, questioning what the lecturers expect and by inverting what I think about things.
I think this is quite an interesting concept and although I can see the benefit surprise has on innovation, a lot of the examples that we seem to have gone through seem to be mainly gallery pieces with no actual tangible use.